Marc Feldman/Getty Images
Friday, April 25, 2008

Tiger Woods should return to competitive golf for the U.S. Open in June, but he may not be back much earlier.

\nWoods, who last week had arthroscopic knee surgery, said in a statement Friday that he is off crutches and hopes to start rehab soon.

\n"I really don't have a timetable for returning to competition," Woods said. "The doctors have said I should be able to play again in four-to-six weeks, but nothing is certain. I'm just going to do what they tell me to do."

\nEarlier reports said Woods planned to return for the Memorial Tournament, which starts May 29, but that seems far from definite, and he will definitely miss the Wachovia and The Players Championship. He should be ready to go for the U.S. Open, which starts June 11.

\nWoods also addressed some questions around his surgery, which surprised his fellow Tour pros when it was announced last week and left people wondering how long the knee had been bothering him and if it had affected his play.

\n"I knew a couple of months ago I was going to have the surgery," Woods said. "The knee has been bugging me for a while. The only decision was do you miss the Masters or play in the Masters? I decided to play. Even if I had won, I still would have had the surgery."

\nHowever, he didn't blame the knee for his problems in Augusta, where he came in second to Trevor Immelman and never made the Sunday charge fans were waiting for.

\n"I've definitely been playing in pain, but that's not why I didn't win at Augusta," Woods said. "I just never got comfortable with my putting stroke. As I said after the tournament, I was dragging the putter coming through which meant I couldn't start the ball on line.

\n"That's all it takes on those greens. Obviously, it was frustrating because I hit the ball well enough to win. It was just one of those things," Woods said.

Woods confessed to being a "little stir crazy" since the surgery, although he's kept up a busy schedule since the Masters, hosting his Tiger Jam charity fundraiser in Las Vegas. He also made time for a call to Immelman.

"I called Trevor Immelman a couple days later to congratulate him," Woods said. "He was on the TV circuit, so I didn't actually talk to him, but I left a voice message. Nobody has ever doubted his ability. He has a beautiful golf swing and it was only a matter of time before he put it all together at a major championship."

\nWhat he did miss at Augusta were the roars from the crowd. This year, commentators and fans criticized Augusta National for making the course too difficult for the back-nine charges of Masters legend. While his comments were typically circumspect, Woods appears to share the criticism, or at the very least is sympathetic to it.

\n"The course was very difficult," Woods said. "I didn't hear as many roars as I usually hear, especially on the weekend. It did play like a U.S. Open course, which is fine.

\n"But I think the galleries are used to seeing birdies and eagles. On Sunday, the way the wind was blowing, it was tough to make pars. I hear the club might be making some changes next year to give us a break. We'll see what happens," he said.

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